SCHENECTADY — Schenectady County will partner with Bethesda House to provide permanent housing for dozens of individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless after receiving a state grant worth more than half a million dollars.
The Schenectady County Rental Supplement Program will be funded by a $536,305 grant awarded by the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance as part of a $100 million statewide initiative to provide housing assistance to those facing homelessness or at an imminent risk of losing housing. The county Legislature will vote to accept the funding on Wednesday.
Paul Brady, the county’s commissioner of social services, said the funding will provide fair market housing assistance to around 43 families for the next year, the equivalent of around $1,000 a month for a two bedroom apartment.
“The rental supplement program is really sort of geared towards those individuals that are currently homeless or at risk of being homeless, and it allows us to pay their rent for a period of time based on the income they have coming into the household,” he said.
Brady, during a meeting of the county’s Committee on Health, Housing and Human Services this past week, said families with an annual income of 50% of the area median income — the equivalent of $40,000 a year for a family of four – will be eligible for the program.
He added that the county will work with Bethesda House, which has been providing services for low-income and homeless populations throughout Schenectady for more than 30 years, to identify families for the program based on the length of time they’ve been living at the shelter and the annual income of each household.
“Being on public assistance, while it would make one eligible, it’s not the sole criteria for the administration of this program,” Brady said.
Officials from Bethesda House were not available for comment on Friday.
A growing number of people have been receiving some type of public assistance over the past year, as the cost of living continues to increase due to soaring inflation, which has driven up everything from home energy costs, grocery bills and gasoline prices.
In August, a total of 2,362 individuals in Schenectady County received some type of temporary assistance, an increase of 514, or 28%, from August 2021, according to the most recent state data.
The number has increased every month since July 2021, when there were 1,815 total recipients receiving temporary assistance, according to state data.
The Consumer Price Index, or the change in the cost of living, has grown 8.2% between September 2021 and September 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The index is below the 9% high that was reach in June.
Brady said the supplement housing program provides additional housing support compared to programs already in place, which typically provide between $400 and $600 a month to help cover the rent costs. The hope, he said, is that the state will continue to fund the program in the coming years, which would allow the program to be expanded.
“I think it has the potential to be a good seed program and hopefully it’ll grow over the course of the next few years,” Brady said.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.